News in Numbers, Jan 11, 2017: Make hay while the sun shines…

2,250 MW

What is it? The solar power capacity commissioned by India between April and December 2016.

Why is it important? This is just 18.7% of the solar power target of 12,000 MW for 2016-17. This raises questions about India’s capability to increase its solar power target to 100,000 MW by 2022. Power Minister Piyush Goyal had said in April 2016 that it can achieve this target by the end of 2017 itself. Achieving this target is important for India, which has committed to source 40% of its electricity from non-fossil fuels under the 2015 Paris Agreement. The aim of the agreement is to limit the increase in the earth’s temperature to less than two degree celsius by 2100.

Tell me more: India’s cumulative solar energy capacity stands at 9,012.66 MW, as per the government data.

 

Rs 3,400 crore

What is it? The amount Tamil Nadu government has said it will spend for desilting reservoirs and channels and restoration of lakes, according to chief minister O Panneerselvam.

Why is it important? This is one of the measures announced by the government as it declared the state to be drought-hit. As many as 144 farmers have reportedly committed suicide between October and December 2016 and the northeast monsoon, which hits Tamil Nadu during this period, has been the worst in 2016 over the last 140 years. The northeast monsoon is responsible for the state’s main rainy season and accounts for nearly half (48%) of its rainfall.

Tell me more: Tamil Nadu has announced measures including conversion of crop loans to medium-term loans, increasing the number of days of work under the national rural employment guarantee scheme to 150 from 100 and allocation of funds to improve drinking water resources. The state will send a petition to the central government asking for drought relief.

 

16.05 million

What is it? The number of people who have reportedly enrolled for Aadhaar in December 2016.

Why is it important? This was the highest enrollment in a month for the 12-digit unique identity number in a month last year. This comes after the government decided to withdraw high-value currency notes from November 9 and the its subsequent push to encourage Aadhaar-enabled financial transactions in a bid to create a less-cash economy. The first week of January 2017 saw 3.63 million people enrolling for Aadhaar, which takes the total number of Aadhaar enrolments to 1.1 billion, covering about 98% of India’s adult population.

Tell me more: The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology is planning to coordinate with the Finance Ministry to draw up a plan to enable financial transactions using Aadhaar (and without the need for mobile phones) at places including petrol pumps and common service centres. Of the 112 crore bank accounts, 40 crore are already linked to Aadhaar.

 

1.2 million

What is it? The number of automobiles sold in the domestic market in December, 2016.

Why is it important? The decline is at a 16-year-low. Overall automobile sales fell by 18.6% year-on-year, not seen since December 2000’s drop of 21.8%. Automobile sales is a measure of consumer sentiments, especially their capacity for discretionary spends, and it has taken a beating after demonetisation as consumers still turn to cash for buying vehicles or restrict non-cash purchases because of negative sentiments.

Tell me more: Retail segments such as passenger cars and two-wheelers registered sharp drops at 8% and 22% respectively. Siam, the industry body releasing the data, says it is a temporary lull. Automobile sales had registered 23.7%, 20%, and 8% rise in August, September, and October, before sliding in November by 5.4%.

 

Rs 4,350 crore

What is it? The contract value won by ABB India to build a power transmission link for Power Grid Corporation of India, the national power grid operator.

Why is it important? This will be one of the longest systems in the world. The two-way link spanning 1,830-km will connect thermal and wind energy plants to high-consumption urban centres, from Chhattisgarh to Tamil Nadu. It will have a capacity of 6,000-megawatts, and once complete, supply electricity to 80 million people by 2019. The win saw ABB India’s stock rise 13% on Tuesday.

Tell me more: ABB India is tasked with installing an ultra-high-voltage 800-kilovolt system for the link. While ABB won the major chunk of the Rs 5,700-crore project, state-run Bharat Heavy Electricals won the remaining mandate.

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News in Numbers, Nov 10, 2016: He paid less, much less…

< $5

What is it? The amount US President-elect Donald Trump likely paid per vote, according to a Reuters analysis campaign finance records and voting data. This is on the assumption that the candidates spent all the money raised.

Why is it important? This is about half of what Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton spent per vote. Until mid-October, Trump’s campaign committee spent around $238.9 million versus Clinton’s $450.6 million. This works out to be around $859,538 per an electoral vote for Trump and $1.97 million per an electoral vote for Clinton (this doesn’t include spending between October 20 and until election day). Trump got about $5 billion worth of free media coverage during the campaign, which is more than twice of what Clinton got, according to data analytics firm mediaQuant.

Tell me more: Interestingly, Trump also spent lesser than the campaigns of President Barack Obama ($630.8 million) and Mitt Romney ($360.7 million).

 

Rs 2.5 lakh

What is it? The limit above which cash deposits made till December 30 in a bank account will be reported to the tax department by banks.

Why is it important? After having banned old currency denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 effective Tuesday midnight, the government had announced that one could deposit the old notes in the banks between November 10 and December 30. The authorities would then match the deposits with the income tax returns of the depositors and any mismatch would be treated as a case of tax evasion. The tax amount and a penalty of 200% of the tax payable would be levied. Jewelers are being given instructions to note the PAN numbers of their buyers and the government would take action against those who do not comply with this.

Tell me more: There is a format that has been created to collect information from the depositors and CCTV cameras would be installed to keep track of them. In addition, banks have also appointed nodal officers to deal with situations as and when they arise.

 

202 crore

What is it? The number of currency notes in Rs 100 denomination that would be fed into ATMs over the next few days.

Why is it important? As many as 12,000 cash vans would reportedly carry these notes and on their return trips, they would carry 1,300 notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations (approximately, worth Rs 8.5 lakh crore). This is probably the largest amount of cash that has ever hit the Indian roads at the same time. However, such a seamless operation is possible only if enough Rs 100 notes are supplied on time to banks, cash in transit operators and ATM service providers.

Tell me more: There is likely to be inconvenience for customers who wish to withdraw Rs 100 notes as most ATMs have cassettes (used to dispense cash) that can hold up to only 2,250 notes at a time. And, again, most of these are fitted with four cassettes, which means these ATMs can dispense about Rs 9 lakh when they are fully filled up.

 

Rs 1 lakh crore

What is it? The amount the Karnataka government plans to invest in the development of irrigation projects.

Why is it important? The southern state has been facing its second consecutive drought year, which is also the sixth straight year of deficient rainfall. Karnataka, which is involved in river disputes with six states, has been seeking about 28% of its drought-related losses of Rs 12,125.79 crore this year in disaster relief. The number of farmer suicides has increased from 122 in 2014-15 to a record 1,461 in 2015-16, which the government officials attribute to crop losses, drought and pressure from private money lenders.

Tell me more: The new estimates of irrigation spending are double of the earlier outlay and the escalation in costs is due to delays in completion of existing projects and addition of new ones.

 

1.5%

What is it? The growth forecast for the euro zone in 2017, according to the European Commission.

Why is it important? This is lower from the 1.8% growth predicted by the body in May thanks to Britain’s exit from the European Union, political uncertainty and weak global trade. Investment is expected to rebound in 2018 and is forecast to grow by 3.3% this year, 3.1% in 2017 and 3.5% in 2018.

Tell me more: The UK economy is expected to grow 1.9% in 2016 and this is expected to fall to 1% in 2017, which is almost half of what the Commission had forecast in its previous estimates before the country voted to leave the European Union.

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News in Numbers, July 21, 2016: Mobile service quality complaints, fine for noise pollution…

89 crore

What is it? The number of person-days of employment generated under India’s flagship national rural employment scheme in the first quarter of 2016-17.

Why is it important? This is a jump of nearly 65% from the 54 crore during the same period last year comes on the back of rural distress caused by droughts in 13 states this year. Compared to last year’s allocation of Rs 20,000 crore in the three-month period, the central government has allocated Rs 30,000 crore in the last quarter, which is nearly 78% of the total budget.

Tell me more: To ensure proper implementation of the scheme, all assets created under the programme are being geo-tagged in addition to increased number of field visits for assessments.

 

9,720

What is it? The number of complaints the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has received for poor services in 2016 until June 30.

Why is it important? The trend seems to be similar to last year when 20,548 complaints were registered with the telecom regulator (2015 figure doesn’t include the complaints received against smaller players). Indicates that the quality of service of telecom players has not improved from last year, which is likely to be a crucial factor in retaining customers as competition among the players intensifies, especially with the impending launch of services by Reliance Jio Infocomm.

Tell me more: Of the total complaints received till last month this year, 3,257 are against Airtel, 2,130 against Vodafone, 1,526 against RCom, 997 against Idea Cellular with those against the other players being less than 500.

 

Rs 5,000

What is it? Fine for causing noise pollution in Delhi.

Why is it important? If this rule is successfully implemented, the capital city would be free of pressure horns’ usage and forbid people from removing silencers from their bikes. This is likely to bring down noise pollution levels in Delhi, which was ranked as the fourth noisiest city in India, according to a report by the Central Pollution Control Board released a few months ago. High noise pollution levels can lead to aggression, hypertension, hearing loss, tinnitus (hearing of sound when there is no external sound) and sleep disturbance.

Tell me more: The prescribed standards mandate that noise levels should not exceed 55 decibels during the day and 45 decibels in the night.

 

26

What is it? The number of districts the Indian government is rolling out direct cash transfers to kerosene customers.

Why is it important? This is to help prevent the diversion of the subsidized fuel and to ensure it reaches the intended beneficiaries. However, the idea of doing this is also to reduce the usage of kerosene for cooking and lighting purposes and instead, encourage people to use LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) cylinders while pushing to electrify all villages by the end of 2016, ahead of its target of May 2017.

Tell me more: It remains to be seen how the scheme will be implemented given that around half of the 80 million households that use kerosene for lighting, of a total of 250 million households as per the 2011 Census, are situated in rural areas that have limited banking services. The districts are spread across eight states.

 

$1 billion

What is it? The worth of copyrighted materials including movies, musical recordings and video games illegally distributed by Kickass Torrents, the world’s largest torrent site.

Why is it important? The US government arrested the alleged owner of Kickass Torrents, who is an Ukranian, in Poland. Even as governments and authorities try to fight digital piracy, the popularity of such torrent sites indicates that many people are reluctant to pay for content.

Tell me more: The torrent site’s net worth is estimated to be over $54 million while its annual advertising revenue is estimated to be in the range of $12.5-22.3 million, according to a criminal complaint filed in US District Court in Chicago. The site received an enviable 50 million unique visitors every month and was estimated to be the 69th most frequently visited website.

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News in Numbers, May 23, 2016: Distressed asset sale deals, ISRO’s latest milestone…

29

What is it? The number of 10 million-people-plus megacities in 2015 compared with 14 in 1995.

Why is it important? Four out of five of them are in developing countries (Asia, Africa and Latin America), indicating that these regions would contribute increasingly to the global economy and attract global businesses. However, this also highlights the challenges these countries would face in tackling urban migration, pressure on infrastructure and the availability of resources.

Tell me more: As many as 49 metropolitan clusters are likely to account for 77% of incremental GDP from 2010 and 2015 in India. The country, which is implementing an ambitious programme to create 100 smart cities by 2022, has just 0.23 urban planners per 100,000 population and the municipal expenditure as a percentage of GDP is just 1.1% (compares very poorly with the other BRICS nations, and OECD countries).

 

0.41%

What is it? The average percentage of tickets Jet Airways sold in the highest fare bucket across the 20 busiest domestic routes in April, according to Directorate-General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) first monthly report aimed at checking soaring airfare prices.

Why is it important? Its competitors – Indigo, Spicejet and GoAir – did not sell a single ticket in the highest fare bucket in many of the 20 domestic routes. Some Parliamentarians had raised the issue of high airfares despite low fuel prices, and also the surge in prices during certain events (such as the Jat agitation in Haryana) and natural calamities. The first set of data do not support the lawmakers’ concerns on this issue, though it would be monitored every month to see if it justifies to impose a cap on airfares.

Tell me more: The DGCA will hold consultation talks with the airlines to discuss a cap on airfares. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has proposed the levying of a 2% fee on all domestic and international commercial flights in order to cross-subsidise air tickets on non-metro routes and bring it down to around Rs 2,500 per flying hour.

 

33

What is it? The number of asset sale deals announced by the top 10 most indebted business houses (as profiled by Credit Suisse last year) since April 2015.

Why is it important? Of these, only six deals have been completed. Of these six, the total value of four deals (for which information is available) is Rs 2,546 crore,  a mere 3% of the total value (Rs 82,343 crore) of the 33 deals. Indicates that companies are struggling to find buyers for their assets. Some may not be willing to mark down the value of their assets to reflect the actual market value, betting that the market may improve, prompting them to either delay the sale of assets or not sell at all.

Tell me more: As many as 14 deals are pending, nine of which account for Rs 48,910 crore. Another 12 are in the proposal stage, of which seven are worth Rs 28,810 crore and one has been withdrawn.

 

4

What is it? The number of months the poor families in drought-hit Bundelkhand region will get free rice, wheat and coarse grain starting June 1.

Why is it important? Last week, Uttar Pradesh declared eight districts (seven of them in Bundelkhand) drought-hit – a much-delayed move, according to ruling Samajwadi Party’s political rivals. The region has seen at least 3,000 farmer suicides over the last five years. It also suffered continuous drought between 2003 and 2010, floods in 2011, late and deficit rainfall in 2012 and 2013 and drought in 2014.

Tell me more: The Uttar Pradesh government has sanctioned Rs 145 crore for rejuvenating 100 extinct ponds in the region. The farmers are being encouraged to cultivate oilseeds, especially sesame, and the government has increased subsidy on these crops.

 

70 km

What is it? The distance India’s indigenous version of a space shuttle travelled today, after which it descended into the Bay of Bengal.

Why is it important? This is the country’s first reusable space shuttle and its first step towards creating a full–fledged reusable rocket, which might take another 10-15 years. The use of a reusable launch vehicle would reduce the cost of space exploration and utilisation, besides providing on-demand space access.

Tell me more: The Indian Space Research Organisation declared the mission a success. It took about 10 minutes from lift-off to splash-down. The 6.5-metre long ‘aeroplane’-like structure weighs 1.75 tonnes and is almost six times smaller than the final version.

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